• Group visits to Kentucky Children's Hospital

    Group visit

    We appreciate your group's interest in planning an activity or performance to brighten the days of Kentucky Children's Hospital patients. Please see below for information you will need to plan your visit.

  • Scheduling

    Groups must apply at least 4 weeks prior to the date they wish to visit. Please understand dates and times cannot be guaranteed. Visits may occur during the afternoons or evenings of most days as the schedule allows.

    To visit Kentucky Children's Hospital patients your application must be received 1 month prior to the visit, for example: If you wish to visit March 17, your application needs to be received by Febuary 17.

    Holiday Scheduling
    Applications to visit during the holiday season (Nov. 15 - Jan. 1) must be received by November 1. 

    Because of the large number of visit requests received for the holidays (Halloween through New Year's Day), we are not always able to accommodate everyone. Groups are encouraged to consider visiting at an alternative time. There are children are in the hospital year-round who will appreciate a visit.

    Participants in groups visiting the hospital must be in high school or older.  There should be no more than 14 members in the group.

    Before your visit
    Prior to filling out the application, we ask that you carefully review the following information found in the tabs below:

    • What to expect during your visit 
    • Application to visit 
    • Guidelines for planning activities/performances and interacting with patients 
    • Day of visit information 
    • Infection control standards 
    • Post visit evaluation

    If the group is comfortable visiting children in the hospital after reading the information in the links above, and the group can meet the infection control standards, please fill out and submit the application. 

    Application process
    Applications will be evaluated according to the benefit and interests of our patients and the availability of our schedule and staffing. If the application is accepted, the group will be contacted by a hospital staff person within two weeks of submitting the application to confirm the date, time, activity, contact information and meeting place. If the application is not accepted, the group will be contact with an explanation of why the application could not be accepted.

    Other options
    We are glad to help provide alternatives to visiting Kentucky Children's Hospital, including:

    • Donating specific items, toys, or games to the Kentucky Children's Hospital
    • Making activity and craft packets for the children
    • Donating money to Kentucky Children's Hospital
    • Inviting a health professional to visit your group to talk about the hospital or a health topic

    Please check with the Child Life office at 859-323-6551 for assistance with any of these alternatives.

  • Guidelines for planning activities and interacting with patients


    Please remember that our patients are very sick and may not want to meet or entertain strangers. Your group should plan an activity which will entice the patients into inviting you into their room.

    Visits are scheduled in the afternoon or evening of most days. However, we must consider the rest, meal, and treatment times for our patients. We cannot guarantee the availability of the dates you request.

    Activities and performances must be approved by Child Life staff. Kentucky Children's Hospital patients seem to enjoy making things, activities which involve winning prizes, receiving gifts, or being entertained. Remember that anything you plan must be possible to accomplish in patient rooms. Our facility does have a playroom; however few of our patients are able to gather for group activities.

    Suggested activities

    • Crafts
    • Paper and pencil contests such as hospital bingo, safaris, word games
    • Tossing games
    • Music
    • Magic Tricks

    If prizes are given, everyone should win a prize.


    If you plan to give gifts, you must provide gifts for all the patients and any siblings who are in the hospital at the time. Gifts should be unwrapped or easily identified so that you know what you are giving a patient. If you have collected gifts but do not have enough to distribute to every patient, they may be added to our gift bank. The gift bank provides gifts to the hospitalized children for holidays, birthday and special occasions throughout the year.

    Age break-down for gifts*: 

    • 25 children under the age of 2
    • 10 children between the ages of 3 and 5
    • 15 children between the ages of 6 and 12
    • 15 teens age 13 and older

    All gifts must be new due to infection control protocols. 

    All gifts should be of equal value. 

    *The age break-downs are only estimates, as our census changes hourly.

    Additional guidelines

    • Latex balloons are not allowed in Kentucky Children's Hospital.
    • Edible treats should be store bought and pre-packaged in individual servings.
    • Performances should be of interest to a wide range of ages. If costumes are worn, remember that some children are frightened by large characters, masks and clowns. Costumed characters should follow the guidance of the hospital staff member escorting them and approach children slowly.
    • Religious activities will be referred to the Hospital Chaplaincy Program. The hospital chaplain may consult with the Child Life Staff as needed. All patients are to be informed of the religious nature of the event, and allowed to decline an invitation to participate.
    • Media, TV or newspaper, coverage of events is discouraged. If media coverage is requested, please explain why.  UK Public Relations must be contacted before any media is involved.
    • Photographs and videos of patients cannot be taken in order to protect patient confidentiality. Instant developing pictures may be taken only if the photo is given to the child or family. You may take a photo of your group at the Kentucky Children's Hospital under the supervision of a child life specialist to ensure no patient information is captured in the photograph.

    Before you arrive

    Your group may want to role play interactions with patients and discuss possible scenarios, so that individuals are comfortable coming into the hospital setting.  

    Possible scenarios:

    • You met a child with no hair and dressed in blue hospital pajamas.  Do not assume this child is a boy. Hospital pajamas come in green, yellow, and blue only.
    • A child has a disability which severely limits his or her mobility, but has normal intelligence and interests for his age. Communication may be difficult, although not impossible. Direct conversation to the child, even though the parents, may be needed to help with the communication.
    • A teen is extremely small for her age. Treat her as you would anyone of her age.

    During your visit

    Interacting with patients: 

    • Respect the patient's right to privacy and confidentiality. Please do not ask a patient or family the reason for the child's admission to the hospital. Hospital staff cannot give detailed information about individual children, but would be happy to provide general information about the type of illness and injuries which bring children to Kentucky Children's Hospital. Group members are encouraged to ask general questions about the patients and services provided at the hospital.
    • Do not share any information about the patient and family with anyone outside the hospital.
    • Be empathetic, but do not display pity toward the children.
    • Each group member should give his or her attention to the patients, not to other members of the group, the television, or other distractions found in the hospital.
    • It's important to follow the instructions of the hospital staff person who is escorting the group and to stay with the group leader at all times.
    • Be enthusiastic and positive about your interactions. Enjoy your interactions, but follow the patient's lead. If he or she is tired, close the interaction.
    • Respect the diversity of cultures and values of the families.
  • Infection control standards

    Infection control is a high priority for the welfare of our patients, families and visitors.

    • Do not enter the hospital if you have any signs or symptoms of illness, such as cough, cold, fever, nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea. Do not enter the hospital if you have been recently exposed (within three weeks) to a communicable disease, such as chicken pox.
    • Wash your hands or use hand sanitizer before and after seeing each patient.
    • Enter isolation rooms only after being instructed to do so by the staff person guiding your group.
    • Avoid close face to face contact with the patients.
    • Wash your hands before leaving the hospital.
    • It's important to follow the instructions of the staff person guiding your group in order to adhere to infection control protocols.
    • Refreshments must be store bought and prepackaged in individual serving packages.
  • What to expect during your visit


    Coming to the hospital will prompt memories and reactions in each participant who has experiences in a hospital, good or bad.

    Talk and listen to each member of the group for their ideas about what they want to gain from a visit with children in the hospital.

    Some questions the group may ask are:

    • Who has had a hospital experience?
    • What was it like?
    • What do they remember?
    • What was the most frightening thing about the hospital?
    • How do they feel about going to the hospital again?

    All of our patients are sick and physically limited by their illness or medical treatments.

    You will likely see babies, children, or teens that feel badly or are in pain; are crying; have IVs, oxygen, and bandages; are bald; wearing masks to protect them from germs; have disability; have coughs, and may come from diverse backgrounds.

    Probably the hardest child to meet is the child whom an individual can identify with closely, such as a child who looks like or is close in age to a loved one.

    The hospital typically has an antiseptic odor, which may trigger early memories in some individuals.

    Our patients range in age from infants through adolescents.   

    While we cannot predict who will be in the hospital at any given time, we know that approximately:

    • 42 percent are between the ages of 0 and 2 years
    • 13 percent are between the ages of 3 and 5 years
    • 25 percent are between the ages of 6 and 12 years
    • 20 percent are over 13 years

    Nearly 100  percent of our patients have family staying with them at all times; you will meet parents, siblings and extended family.

    Nearly all of our patients have IVs and other medical devices attached to them.

    Few of our patients feel well enough or are allowed to join in group activities; most activities are conducted in each patient's room.

    A staff person will escort the group around the hospital; some patients will choose not to participate.

  • Day-of-visit information

    Please be on time and call 859-323-6551 if your group will be late.

    Group members may park in the hospital parking structure at the corner of Transcript Avenue and South Limestone. Any special accommodations should be noted on the application and arranged with hospital staff.

    Meet your hospital staff person at a prearranged location as agreed upon by you and the staff person guiding your group. The staff person will escort the group to the Kentucky Children's Hospital, stay with your group during the activities and leave with the group, following the conclusion and clean up of the activities.

    Ensure that all members of your group are free of infection. Remember, if you have any signs or symptoms of illness, such as cough, cold, fever, nausea, vomiting or diarrhea, you should not come to Kentucky Children's Hospital. Do not enter the hospital if you have been recently exposed (within three weeks) to a communicable disease, such as chicken pox.

    Dress appropriately. You should dress conservatively, wearing pants or skirts, shirts or blouses with sleeves that cover your midriff, and shoes that cover the toes.

    Be flexible, as circumstances can change quickly in the hospital.

    If you are unsure about anything, ask the staff person guiding you.

    Evaluate your experience at the hospital. We would appreciate any feedback from your group to improve our interaction with community groups. Please send your comments to:

    Child Life Program
    Kentucky Children's Hospital
    Room HA444
    1000 S. Limestone
    Lexington KY 40536

    If you have any additional questions, please contact the Child Life Program at 859-323-6551 or e-mail Judi Martin at jamart8@email.uky.edu.